By Nick Perrin
Last week, Pastor Rhett wrote about the ‘What?’ of Missional Prayer. Today I want to write about the ‘Why?’ Why should we pray missionally? Well, very simply, because if we are supposed to follow Jesus and be like him, we must learn to pray missionally. Consider this passage from John 17:20-21
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Having prayed earlier in John 17 for the disciples he has personally known, Jesus now turns his gaze to the future. He prays ahead of time for those who will believe “through their message.” Such do not believe in Jesus now, but they will believe in him. Clearly, this prayer applies both to the not-yet believers of Jesus’ own generation as well as to all those future believers who would be born long after the time of Jesus, whether born into the church or ushered into faith at the eleventh hour. At least in part, then, is a prayer prayed for the sake of unbelievers. It is a missional prayer.
Now notice what Jesus asks us to pray. Jesus does not ask us to pray that our unbelieving loved ones would “pray the sinner’s prayer,” not that that would be a bad thing. Nor does he ask us to pray that our prayed-for peeps would show up to church, not that that would be a bad thing either. Instead, listen to Jesus’ prayer for the not-yet believer: that they might be one, as the Father and Son of God are one. Needless to say, the unity shared between the members of the Trinity, including the Father and Son, is a perfect unity. That means that when we pray for a simple decision for Christ, our prayers our too small.
When we pray that our friends who now have absolutely no interest in church would start coming to church, that’s a good start – but only a good start. Instead Jesus asks us to pray that the wandering sheep we see outside the sheep pen might be brought in and have perfect unity– unity of purpose, unity of commitment, and unity of love — with the other sheep. Sadly, as we have to acknowledge, God’s church is overcrowded with half-baked converts. I wonder if this has at least something to do with the fact that our prayers are too small. Following Jesus’ lead I would like to challenge you to pray big, just as Jesus prayed big.
We pray missionally because Jesus prayed missionally. His mission isn’t about getting warm bodies into church; much less is it about us leading a moral but isolated life. Instead it’s about putting us in a position where there is absolutely no daylight separating us from our community of faith, including our brothers and sisters at Faith Community Church.
Suggested Reading: John 17
Missional Prayer Guidance: Pray for your neighbors, your friends, and your co-workers. Pray for your not-yet believing children and grandchildren, and their kids too, even if they haven’t even been born yet. Pray that these would be brought into the unity of the church.